2nd month of tattoo apprenticeship in pictures

So what’s up everyone. Since I last updated, I’ve started tattooing real humans and unfortunately that led to the lack of updates on this blog. My apologies. As much as I wanted to post “results” of the tattoos, I’d save that for later when I actually get better. For the last month or so, I’m limited to doing tribal work – simple designs using only solid black, with no shading whatsoever.

This is the stencil for my first tattoo on a human – ever. It’s about 18x 10 cm – awful huge for a newbie! How did it go? It went badly and I didn’t even finish! 3 hours into the tattoo, my client had to leave, and I’ve only managed to line everything and shade the outer part of the alien face  thing. Lesson learnt  – don’t bring your easily bored girlfriend to your tattoo session.

Here’s some of the other stencils I got to do this last month. They say doing tribals is like shoveling coal – it’s long hours and repetitive work pushing in the black stuff over and over again, but I believe in a learning process!  Through doing all these simple tribals, I’m figuring out to do clean crisp lines (it’s the hardest), solid colors, constant line quality, all the fundamentals before I could even handle more complicated work. As much as I’d love to do colorful Neo-Traditional or ornamental work, I don’t think I’m capable to do that type of work to an acceptable standard just yet. Like they say, everything in its own time.

How hard was tattooing? It was tough beyond expectation! I thought I’ve nailed it down pat on practice skin, but human skin is an entirely different medium. There were nights when I went home so frustrated, despite doing all my best, I felt that I failed terribly, and all I wanted was to give in and give up tattooing. Yes, it was that hard. On top of that I’ve always set high standards for myself and my work, so when my results didn’t meet with my expectations, the one who’s most upset was not my boss or my client, it was me! So I did the only thing I had to do – try harder on the next tattoo, and get better, and hope that one day I’d be pleased enough with my own work that I’m able to post it here!

So that’s that. Perhaps I’ll update you with some colored work next month – no more tribals! – all fingers crossed.


1st month of tattoo apprenticeship in pictures

15 April – Day 7 of apprenticeship. I conquered my fear of butterfly pictures. I traced some tribal flash from a book, to be used later for my temporary tattoos album.

2 April – Day 11. Learned about temporary ink. I got to do temporary tattoos on myself.

I got bored with the stock tribal designs so I freehanded this silly dotwork burning skull tatt.


24 April – Day 12. Done with the temporary tattoos, I did some custom artwork, then spent the rest of the day coloring some koi flash. I wish I had more time to draw like this.

25 April – Day 13. Practice skin arrived. It looked daunting, not to mention rubbery. Gnar!

6 April – Day 14. Trying to memorize things like this: The distance between the spring and contact screw when the armature bar is fully pressed. This is the correct distance for lining. Oh and BTW on the 2nd day of practice, I totally dropped my machine on the floor! Thank goodness I didn’t break it! Don’t try this at your shop!

1 May, Day 16. This is my practice skin after 3 days of “tattooing”. Still learning how to line and lay solid color using 5 rounds. Only 5 rounds. It’s hard work.

How the hell do you make straight lines? Why does the upper part look chewed up? Obviously, I still have a lot to learn…

And the story continues. I’ll keep you updated with more pictures, and less whining about how hard it is, because as they say, there’s absolutely no crying in tattooing. Hear, hear.

Best propaganda video ever

I don’t know why all my artist friends are crazy about Sunskin machines, like they’re the holy grail of tattoo machines or something, but someday, one day, I’m gonna learn all the tricks of the trade like a young eager Padawan that I am. Aren’t they pretty? Aww. I’m gonna leave you with this propaganda video that I really enjoyed, courtesy of Intenze Ink.

“Everyone is an artist – even the business man picks his tie every morning.”


So some of you might be wondering why am I not updating my Random Tattoo Art Challenge thing lately. I have a few excuses, mainly:

(1) I have too many other projects, my hands are full! What about the 30 day drawing challenge?
(2) These days I practice my drawing whichever way I can, not just by doing tattoo art.
(3) I got discouraged knowing that some people have all the luck and opportunity, while some don’t.

I won’t call myself successful in what I do for a living, (if I’m successful I’d rather be sunbathing in Fiji all year long) but I worked my ass off to get where I am now. Okay, that might be an overstatement, but to be where I am now in life, everything wasn’t just handed to me for free. I had to fight, I had to learn a lot, I had to pay my dues.

When I thought about the chances of me being a tattoo apprentice, it scared the fuck out of me. I was scared that I will never be good enough. I was scared that I will never be unique enough, to have my own style. I was scared, what if I don’t possess the right attitude, whatever ‘tude it is that’s deemed necessary to survive.

I felt scared when I became aware that becoming an apprentice is a full time commitment, and I would have to leave certain parts of my life behind, and welcome uncertainty – and unpaid work for a few months. That, plus the cost of the apprenticeship itself.

I was also scared that I would end up being a copy artist – Making a living copying others’ custom artwork, which in my opinion is very unethical but very common practice in Indonesia. How can you blame them? Customer is king, and the artist is just trying to make a living. Fuck copyright, never mind that each tattoo artwork has personal meanings to its bearer… Well, unless it’s a flash art coming off a flash sheet, then knock yourselves out copying the hell of it!

When I first became aware about this issue of  plagiarism in tattoo art, I thought that if I ever become an artist, I would personally kill or maim anyone who copy my work without my permission. Yes they will die a slow painful death. Be very scared. Then again, as others say, imitation is the greatest form of admiration!

Yes I was scared of many things. The more I get scared, the more I push myself to get better. Yoda or someone wise said that there are no shortcuts to awesomeness. But lately, I’ve became aware that in some cases, people did take shortcuts. That you don’t need to be able to draw or have any artistic sense to be a tattoo artist. You don’t need proper safety and health risks training. You don’t need to pay for a proper apprenticeship. All you need are a machine, some ink, some willing victims, and some art downloaded off the net (of course).

At first, this issue with wannabe artists (scratchers, if you might say) pissed me off. Then it scared me, that a lot of people are claiming to be “artists” while actually they aren’t. Then it actually encouraged me to practice more, to get better, so that when I enter the game, I can stand a head above the rest, cos I actually haz teh skills!

Does this verbal diarrhea make sense? Am I rambling off my (nonexistent) tits? I guess I’d better stop ranting and start practicing my drawings instead. Practice makes perfect!

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Week 1 – Random Tattoo Flash Challenge

Week 1 – Random Tattoo Flash Challenge

Theme: #45 Celtic knot + #12 Luck/Clover

First one done out of many. I don’t think I fared too badly on this one. Celtic knotwork are fun to draw, and it’s quite a challenge to figure out the in and out weavings and the symmetry and such – that’s when I scanned the sketches and tidied it up in Illustrator. Meh.

Symbolism wise, it’s my own take at the lucky four leaf clover. (that ends up looking a bit like the Apple command symbol/Saint John’s arms but it looks cool so I don’t care!Instead of making it a heart shape, I made the edges of the clover in the shape of a pinwheel, because in some cultures a pinwheel represents luck, literally a change/turn of fate.

Too much? Just right? Do you like it? Will you get this tattooed? Comment away.

Random Tattoo Flash Project!

Random Tattoo Flash Project!

The basics: See these stars? These are numbered from 1-50. Each week I will randomly pick 2 of these stars out of a box. Each number corresponds to a popular tattoo flash theme:

1. Tribal
2. Star / Nautical Star
3. Cross
4. Angel
5. Wings
6. Maori
7. Dragon
8. Phoenix
9. Butterfly
10. Fairy
11. Lion
12. Celtic Knot
13. Kanji
14. Tiger
15. Rose
16. Heart
17. Zodiac
18. Skull
19. Flowers
20. Pin-up Girl
21. Eagle
22. Crown
23. Sun
24. Anchor
25. Ankh
26. Barbwire
27. Om
28. Bat
29. Swallow
30. Spider
31. Compass
32. Cupid
33. Cherubs
34. Snake
35. Fleur de Lis
36. Haida
37. Sword
38. Dolphins
39. Dragonfly
40. Fish
41. Flames / Fire
42. Gun / Pistol
43. Harley Davidson / Motorcycle
44. Lotus
45. Luck / Clover
46. Musical Notes
47. Scorpion
48. Yin-Yang
49. Dagger
50. Love / Pierced Heart

The rules: I will do a tattoo design based on the 2 numbers combination I get out of the box. (Example: #49 + #3 = dagger and cross. How awesome!). This is to simulate the demands of customers in a tattoo shop, and also, as a wannabe apprentice building a portfolio, I can’t only draw shit that I like, I have to diversify and be creative.

This tattoo flash randomizer project is created by @Grymink, a fellow aspiring tattoo apprentice/ flash artist. Many thanks for inspiring me to do this! And oh yeah, go check out his tumblr and blog:)

Wish me luck, people!